Today we welcome back Dr. Robert Stening to our blog with a follow up to his May 7 post on Creationism.
by Dr. Robert Stening
It seems that evolution is one area where some Christians have problems in reconciling the science with their faith. The basic problem is again how people should read the early chapters of the biblical book of Genesis. If these are not read literalistically, there should be no problem.
Since Darwin’s time the evidence for evolutionary processes has been mounting. There are still remaining puzzles to be solved, such as the evolution of penguins, but genetic information has significantly contributed to our understandings.
One example of this may be seen in the human chromosome 2. Humans have 23 chromosomes as compared to 24 in chimpanzees and other apes. In the diagram we see two chimp chromosomes on the left have fused to give the human chromosome 2 on the right. In the human chromosome two centromeres are present instead of the usual one and a pair of telomeres is seen in the middle. The lines of descent of humans and chimps parted about five million years ago but the chromosome evolution is plain to see.
It is interesting to note that the doctrine of original sin suggests that we have “inherited” the stain of sin from the original sin of Adam and Eve. Once again the question arises as to how literally we should read the Adam and Eve story. Teihard de Chardin once said ‘on a single perfect being put to the test on only one occasion, the likelihood of the Fall is so slight that one can only regard the Creator as having been extremely unlucky’.
And yet if we are honest we all experience within ourselves a tendency to sin. As Galatians 5:16-17 says: So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so you do not do what you want.
We have these two forces waging war within us – our sinful nature fuelled by Satan and our spiritual nature energised by the Holy Spirit. I suggest that our sinful nature is part of our evolutionary inheritance from earlier creatures in our evolutionary line. Creatures other than humans live by the survival of the fittest with no regard for the consequences for any others. This focus on”self” is a hallmark of our sinful nature. Our spiritual nature derives from our developing into beings who can have a relationship with our God and so are “in the image of God”.
What about verses like Romans 5:12: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned. 1 Corinthians 15:22 is another example.
The Bible writers knew nothing of modern science and had to communicate with their audience in terms which they understood. They understood that, with Adam, sin led to death, as “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Without our acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice for us, this will also be our fate.
Associate Professor Robert Stening is a Senior Visiting Fellow in the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. He teaches an online course on Science and Religion which is offered as a General Education unit to UNSW students.